In another life, I did morning radio. Twice, actually.
The first time, it was an AC format station, or Adult Contemporary, as the industry called it. A more apt description would be a Mom station. Celine Dion and Shania Twain songs, to also give you an idea of the time frame. Most likely heard in minivans or Camrys. The big character I was doing on the show was a grumpy old guy who had trouble hearing.
Then I left the Mom station for a CHR station (Contemporary Hit Radio). You know: Urban. Hip-hop. This time, the people listening were probably in lowered Acuras or even in school buses. The grumpy old deaf guy was gone, replaced by a sassy, sexually-fluid, hula instructor.
It was all fun and games.
Then one very early Tuesday morning in Fall of 2001, I get a phone call from my partner on the CHR show. I looked at the clock: 3:30 AM.
“Turn on your TV,” Leo shouted. “They’re attacking us! Get to the station!”
I turned on the television to see the World Trade Center in flames. Mere moments later the Pentagon was attacked. Then the South Tower fell. A fourth plane crashed. The North Tower fell.
Sitting there and watching the incessant replays, it was impossible to process what was occurring so quickly. Was this real? How could this have happened? Are there people in there?
Our usually irreverent and gleefully sophomoric show was immediately and necessarily changed for a couple of weeks. We instead became a conduit for the latest news and the grim reliving of the horrors of that day. Eventually, we returned to our regular schtick much as the nation itself slowly did. But something in me had forever changed.
I wanted to contribute. Something. Somehow. I wanted to be more. To do more.
Not sure if I was too old to join the military. Maybe I could go entertain the troops? I began thinking of relocating from the middle of the ocean and broadening my material to facilitate such a thing. Took a while but I made it happen.
They are still the best shows I ever get the privilege to do: putting smiles on the faces of our battle-weary and homesick Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Sailors. Wherever. Whenever. It’s not much, but it’s what I can do.
In my travels, I am from time to time reminded of that sad, horrible day fifteen years ago. In Afghanistan, a steel girder from the ashes of the city stands guard. Eight simple characters etched into the steel tell a pithy yet compendious message. A tower has been rebuilt. A city has been remade. I am reborn.